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Gauteng DA wants the provincialisation of ambulances halted amid Covid-19 third wave fears

15 June 2021 - 07:10 By cebelihle bhengu
The DA says the botched provincialisation of ambulance services will endanger lives of Covid-19 patients. File image
The DA says the botched provincialisation of ambulance services will endanger lives of Covid-19 patients. File image
Image: 123RF/ Pumidol Leelerdsakulvong

The DA's Jack Bloom has lamented the provincialisation of ambulances in Gauteng, saying it has a negative impact on residents who are complaining about poor service delivery. He  called for the move to be halted amid a rise in Covid-19 infections.

The DA Gauteng shadow MEC said he is inundated with calls from residents “who have called an ambulance that does not arrive in good time”.

Bloom said there are 40 fewer ambulances operating after the Gauteng health department “botched its takeover of all ambulance services in the province”.

While Tshwane had extended its temporary operating licence to the end of the year, the City of Ekurhuleni did not apply for a licence to run their own ambulances, he added.

He called for the “provincialisation” to be halted as more residents may need ambulances amid the looming threat of the Covid-19 third wave.

How can it be that we have idle ambulances in two Gauteng cities as Covid-19 infections increase alarmingly?

“The collapse of Johannesburg’s ambulance service comes as residents reel from power and water cuts due to years of poor maintenance.

“The provincial government should halt its provincialisation of ambulances, and ensure that all available ambulances and personnel are used to save lives in medical emergencies,” said Bloom.

In 2019 the Gauteng government provincialised emergency medical services and withdrew its funding, taking with it the Department of Health licence that the City of Johannesburg was using to operate its emergency vehicles.

The move came ahead of the tightened licensing regulations, enforced by the department, which came into effect on June 1 2019.

TimesLIVE reached out to the health department and was directed to the Johannesburg emergency management services (EMS). Spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi confirmed the concerns but would not say when the ambulances will operate again.

He referred further queries back to the health department.

“The service has been suspended until further notice. The reason is that since the provincialisation of the ambulances, we don’t have an operating licence since the province has taken back the responsibility of operating ambulance services from municipalities in Gauteng,” said Mulaudzi.